Quinoa – just not lovable

Maybe I’m cranky today, but I just can’t love Quinoa (keen-wah for those of you who have not even been introduced).

I enjoy trying new gluten free flours, experimenting with where they work best. Muffins? Yeast bread? I had high hopes for this one. It has a great nutritional profile, high in protein, high in fiber and supposedly with a  mild nutty taste -almost too good to be true!

It was, too good to be true that is. The flavor of the flour out of the bag (yep, I taste it “raw”) was a bit sharp and grassy, not “nutty” at all. However, I know from using bean flours that raw flour often mellows with cooking. So I tried my next test, which is to mix the four with a little water (like for a socca) and then giving it a turn on a heated fry pan in a bit of oil. The batter held up well with nothing to bind it, but after cooking the quinoa still had that grassy taste.

Now I like that “grassiness” in a good Sauvignon Blanc, but I just can’t relate it to crepes or chocolate chip cookies.

Maybe I’m just too picky, but I don’t see too many recipes out there using quinoa flour, so I’m thinking I’m not alone in thinking quinoa isn’t very lovable. Anyone out there love it? Hate it? Got a recipe that will make me change my mind?

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  1. I actually like quinoa! We like the pasta MUCH better than the rice or corn pasta. It’s far more similar to wheat pasta, IMO.

    I use quinoa flour, mixed with white rice flour and few seasonings, to coat fish for homemade fishsticks. They are yummy!

    And I just tried a chocolate cake recipe from the GlutenFreeGirl [recipe was in Martha Stewart Living] that combined quinoa flour, almond flour/meal, and brown rice flour. The cake was pretty good. Nice texture and good cocoa flavor. That might change your mind. I think maybe it has to be combined with other things.

    I did try it once [at a gluten free cooking class] prepared as a breakfast cereal. It was cooked like oatmeal, sweetened, and peaches were added. It was pretty good. I haven’t tried it as a rice replacement type dish, but I bet it would be similar to couscous.

  2. OK Misa, you just gave that lonely bag of quinoa flour on my counter a new lease on life! I’ll try it in a blend. I do notice that some of the flours with more *personality* do better blended with rice flour, etc. or used with herbs and/or stronger flavors like chocolate. That is a good suggestion!

    Quinoa as couscous also sounds like something worth trying. I miss couscous. I’ll report back on how it goes!

  3. hazeleyes says:

    I used quinoa as substitute for cracked wheat in tabouli salad; we loved it, but I used a recipe from the internet that seemed more “authentic” than the tablouli I’ve had in the US. I had some in London that was more like the recipe I made – a little quinoa, 3 bunches of parsley (a lot!), a touch of mint, quite a lot of very finely chopped onion, a little garlic, diced cucumber, diced tomato, lemon juice and olive oil, cumin, I believe, and I think I added ground coriander seed. It really was wonderful, but tabouli is a lot of trouble, a big commitment to lots of chopping.

    I’ve served quinoa as a grain side dish with sauteed chopped nuts and mushrooms. It was good but the guinua had a grassy note that we didn’t like. It’s possible that I didn’t know at that time that it requires a lot of rinsing before cooking, so that might account for the off-flavor.

    I haven’t yet seen quinoa flour, and I don’t think the grain unground is a substitute for other non-gluten flours, because I don’t think it would behave the same way flours behave (absorbancy, reaction with protein, etc.).

    Does anyone have experience with quinoa who can comment? I have lots of cooking experience but am new to g-f.

  4. I have always liked cooked quinoa. I used to eat red quinoa flakes for breakfast much like oatmeal. I enjoy spouted quinoa as well. So I thought quinoa flour would be just as good. I was sure wrong when I tried to make cornmeal muffins mixed with quinoa flour. I made a whole batch, I even used molasses to try and cut the flavour. The batch was terrible. No one would eat them. It wasn’t the cornmeal that was bad it definitely was the quinoa flour. The flour is just too strong. I can’t even think about what would have worked to make them eatable. Good thing I made them on compost pick-up night!

  5. Lol! Leia, sounds like quinoa has its good points and bad points. Maybe it is just more lovable as a whole grain.

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